Have you ever noticed that when life is going well, you and your partner also happen to get along a little better, too?
When you’re healthy, you’re both enjoying your work and your finances allow you to live comfortably, you have less stress. Less arguments. Less power struggles.
But when something goes wrong in life (as it often does) or a new challenge pops up, that’s when your relationship becomes strained, contentious and difficult.
It could be any kind of change in your life circumstances:
Maybe there’s a job loss, or an unexpected expense, like needing a new furnace for your house or having to replace a transmission in a car, and you have to downsize or watch your budget.
Or you need to take time off to care for a parent who is recovering from surgery.
Or your employer offers you a big promotion—that involves moving to a different state.
Suddenly, instead of being your safe harbor and source of comfort, your relationship becomes part of the problem.
Why? Because you can’t seem to get your partner to cooperate, support you, or work toward a solution with you.
They refuse to be pragmatic or listen to reason.
They don’t want to change their lifestyle.
They don’t want to make a budget, or have to move, or change their priorities.
They think their way is the only way.
They want to keep things the way they are.
Therefore, instead of dealing with the challenge as a team, you end up dealing with it alone.
Which makes things more stressful than they need to be, and makes you feel unsupported and lonely.
Despite this, however, you stay with your partner. Things are “okay.” You’re frustrated, and maybe not even really “happy,” but you don’t want to—or can’t—leave.
Maybe things haven’t gotten that bad yet. You’ve had your challenges, but have somehow managed to get through them, despite the struggle it caused in your relationship.
But what if there’s an inherent flaw in your relationship that you don’t yet see?
And this flaw means you’re just one big crisis away from a break-up or divorce?
Just like a couple I counseled in my private practice many years ago…
When I moved I to Austin, Texas in the mid-1980s and went about setting up my therapy practice, little did I know the economic downturn brought on by the oil bust would quickly fill my appointment book.
In addition to couples who ordinarily come for help, there was a significant sub-group who came because the financial crisis had exposed a dangerous weakness in their relationship.
Couples who were accustomed to having more than enough money—and all the privileges that come with it—were having to make adjustments, and the transition was not going smoothly.
Dwindling bank accounts created obvious financial hardship, but also exposed rigid expectations of one another in the relationship. One particular couple stands out in my mind and represents the general theme I heard from many.
June and Frank came to me in such a power struggle they were barely speaking to one another.
Frank’s real estate business had failed and at the time of their first appointment, he was actively job hunting.
Because they were in such a tight place financially, he was asking June to go back to teaching for a while until they were able to improve their financial situation.
June wasn’t having it.
She was determined not to go back to teaching and was hurt that Frank was even asking her to do it.
“You told me when we married that I wouldn’t have to work another day in my life. You Lied!” June protested to Frank.
Frank felt trapped. It was true; he had said those words. Fifteen years earlier, when he met June, she had been providing for her two young daughters for several years and Frank welcomed the opportunity to enable her to be a stay-at-home-mom while his thriving business supported them all.
But that was then; this is now.
Different times called for a different strategy.
They had come to me because they were at an impasse. Frank thought what he was asking for was reasonable, and June thought he was breaking a promise. They were going around in circles with their argument, refusing to work together to reach a compromise.
The reason they couldn’t get past it was that the immediate problem they were facing was merely a symptom of a much bigger issue:
The inability to be flexible in the face of a challenge or crisis.
Their financial setback had exposed this dangerous weakness in their relationship.
They had gotten so set in their ways, so inflexible, that they couldn’t even be creative in coming up with a solution.
They were stuck.
Instead of examining their problem, they saw each other as the problem.
We would all like to believe that once we meet a good partner our life together would be smooth sailing from then on.
None of us likes to think of all the unexpected adjustments we might have to make, but call to mind all the couples you know who have had to face these common life challenges.
Illness…job loss…children with health issues or learning disabilities…ailing parents…
Couples unable to be flexible and manage life's challenges in a healthy fashion will ultimately be destroyed.
Not by the issues… but by their own rigid stance.
The fact is, it’s been observed in scientific research that happy couples have just as many problems and life challenges as unhappy couples.
And unhappy couples use problems as an excuse to disconnect from each other.
That’s why you have to ask yourself…
Do you and your partner have the skills you need to make your relationship more flexible and resilient, so that the next life challenge doesn’t tear you apart?
Or is your best strategy to either argue with your partner or work through things alone?
If you don’t have the skills or aren’t sure what else to do, there’s good news.
You CAN make your relationship more flexible and resilient, and it doesn’t mean you have to convince your partner of anything, or figure it out all by yourself, either.
You can adopt a much more effective means of becoming flexible as a couple, and it can make all the difference in the future of your relationship.Here’s How
As for June and Frank, I showed them what they were really struggling with and how to fix it, and they made it.
Not only did they stay together, but with my help, they became a stronger, happier, more resilient couple, not by merely solving the problem of June getting a job or not getting a job—that would be addressing only the symptom, but by changing their underlying operating system and making it far more flexible.
If you suspect you may have this dangerous flaw that makes your relationship weak and vulnerable to life’s challenges, I can help.
In Chapter Seven of my eBook, 5 Forces Destroying Your Relationship You’ve Never Heard Of, you’ll learn the details of the approach I took with June and Frank that can also help you get through any life crisis or even an everyday challenge.
You’ll then examine your attitudes and behavior through a specially designed quiz that can help you and your partner shift how you think and feel and therefore, make your relationship more flexible and resilient.
You’ll also learn 8 simple steps you can take to infuse your relationship with flexibility in the face of changing circumstances.
You can start reading my eBook in mere minutes, and watch as the tools and strategies to help you create a much more supportive, resilient, and fun relationship:Create A Resilient Relationship
You can’t count on life staying the same. You can only count on change, and that means that your relationship must be able to handle those changes, and come out stronger and better.
Your degree of flexibility will determine whether your good-enough relationship will ultimately be good enough to navigate life’s changes—or not.
May you have an extraordinary day,
P.S. Many of life’s biggest disappointments hold the greatest blessings.
If you’re struggling in your relationship now because of a change in your circumstances, it may be an opportunity to use that challenge for you to make your relationship stronger, better and closer.
In Chapter Seven of my eBook, 5 Forces Destroying Your Relationship You’ve Never Heard Of, you’ll learn how to be more creative as a couple, more compassionate, and more present. Find out how by downloading my eBook here:Download It Now